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What Would a Theoretical Seattle Expansion Team Look Like?

If the NBA were to put expansion on the table for Seattle, how would that team be constructed?


Expansion has been a hot topic around these parts lately with the prospect of the Sacramento Kings relocating to Seattle to become the Supersonics. Both cities are actively fighting over the Kings, with hundreds of millions of dollars in the picture. At the current rate, one city will be left heartbroken with nothing to show for the efforts.

But there is another option, and one that should be on the table: Expansion. The NBA has been very non-committal on the topic of expansion, as you can see from this article by King5 News in Seattle last October.

Yet now, with two cities willing to throw gobs of money and brand new arenas at the NBA, how can expansion not be on the table? It's the only scenario in which Sacramento wins, Seattle wins, and the NBA wins. And as Tom pointed out over at the mothership last week, there are almost no good reasons NOT to expand.

So let's just say that expansion was on the table. What would that team look like? A couple years ago I wrote a post on the very subject on my now defunct NBA blog in which I built a theoretical expansion team with the help of various team bloggers. Now I'm going to do it again, this time for a theoretical Seattle Supersonics expansion franchise debuting next year.

First, the rules for an expansion draft, taken from when the NBA introduced the Bobcats. It's possible that the rules for a Seattle franchise would be different:

  • The Sonics must select a minimum of 14 players who are under contract or are restricted free agents for the 2013-14 season.
  • The Sonics may select no more than one player from each team.
  • The Sonics can only select players that are unprotected by their team.
  • Each of the 30 NBA teams may protect a maximum of 8 players on its roster who are under contract or are restricted free agents at the conclusion of the 2013-14 season.
  • Each of the 30 NBA teams must designate at least one player on its roster to be eligible for selection by the Sonics, even if the team does not have 8 players under contract or as restricted free agents for the 2013-14 season.
  • All players under contract selected by the Sonics will be immediately placed on the Sonics roster.
  • Any eligible restricted free agent selected by the Sonics shall immediately become an unrestricted free agent.
  • Unrestricted Free Agents are not eligible to be protected or selected.
  • The Sonics can engage in pre-Expansion Draft trades involving draft picks and players in which Seattle agrees to select or not select certain unprotected players in return. (Note: This is the hardest part of this exercise to simulate. For example, in the Bobcats expansion draft, they were given the 4th pick, and traded that to the Los Angeles Clippers for the 2nd pick, on the condition that the Bobcats would select Predrag Drobnjak)
  • The Sonics can select players in the Expansion draft without regards to the Salary Cap. Still, they will need to deal with a smaller cap for their first two years (66% of normal in 2013-14, 75% of normal in 2014-15).
  • When the Sonics select a restricted free agent, they can use the same exceptions (Bird, Early Bird, Non-Bird) that their previous team would've been able to use. They don't, however, have the right to match offers as the player(s) have become unrestricted free agents due to their selection in the expansion draft.
  • If a team over the salary cap loses a player that was under contract for the 2013-14 season, they will get a trade exception.
  • The Sonics will not participate in the NBA lottery and will be given the 4th pick in the first and second rounds of the 2013 NBA Draft.
  • A team will not be permitted to re-acquire a player it lost in the Expansion draft for one year, unless the player is waived and not claimed by any other team.

Before I begin making my selections I'd just like to thank all the SB Nation team bloggers that took time out of their day to help me out with this project. Thank you.

Players with an asterisk next to their name are Restricted Free Agents.

Atlantic Division

Boston Celtics: Celtics Blog
Protected: Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Rajon Rondo, Avery Bradley, Jared Sullinger, Fab Melo
Unprotected: Jeff Green, Brandon Bass, Courtney Lee, Jason Terry
Expansion Pick: Seattle's first selection is an easy one. I like Courtney Lee's defense and shooting. He's locked up for a relatively long time in NBA terms, but it's a pretty reasonably price contract.

Philadelphia 76ers: Liberty Ballers
Protected: Thaddeus Young, Jason Richardson, Evan Turner, Lavoy Allen, Jrue Holiday, Arnett Moultrie
Unprotected: Spencer Hawes, Kwame Brown
Expansion Pick: These aren't the most appealing choices but Hawes is a young center with some skill and his expiring contract might be potentially valuable for future trading. At the minimum he's a serviceable center for the new Seattle team, plus he'll be a hometown favorite.

New York Knicks: Posting and Toasting
Protected: Carmelo Anthony, Tyson Chandler, Raymond Felton, Jason Kidd, J.R. Smith, Iman Shumpert, Chris Copeland*, Pablo Prigioni*
Unprotected: Marcus Camby, Steve Novak, Amare Stoudemire, James White
Expansion Pick: An aging former superstar in Stoudemire and a few roleplayers. Seattle doesn't want anything to do with Stoudemire's contract and doesn't have much use for the other players. They pass on New York's offerings.

Brooklyn Nets: Nets Daily
Protected: Joe Johnson, Deron Williams, Brook Lopez, Gerald Wallace, Mirza Teletovic, Reggie Evans, MarShon Brooks, Tyshawn Taylor
Unprotected: Kris Humphries, C.J. Watson, Tornike Shengelia
Expansion Pick: Seattle picks up a nice, cheap young prospect here in Tornike Shengelia. He's buried on Brooklyn's bench but I feel he can be a solid rotational player one day.

Toronto Raptors: Raptors HQ
Protected: Amir Johnson, Kyle Lowry, Jonas Valnciunas, DeMar Derozan, Terrence Ross, Ed Davis, Quincy Acy
Unprotected: Andrea Bargnani, Landry Fields, Linas Kleiza, Aaron Gray, John Lucas III
Expansion Pick: The Raptors are offering me one of the better players available in expansion with Andrea Bargnani. Bargnani has his faults to be sure, but he's also young and I think needs a change of scenery. Still, Seattle is building for the future, not the now. Bargnani also muddles up the cap so the Sonics pass.

Central Division

Cleveland Cavaliers: Fear the Sword
Protected: Anderson Varejao, Kyrie Irving, Tristan Thompson, Dion Waiters, Alonzo Gee, C.J. Miles, Tyler Zeller, Mareese Speights
Unprotected: Omri Casspi*, Wayne Ellington*, Josh Selby
Expansion Pick: I like shooters and Wayne Ellington is a very good one. Seattle opts to pick up his rights.

Milwaukee Bucks: Brew Hoop
Protected: Ersan Ilyasova, Luc Mbah A Moute, Ekpe Udoh, Brandon Jennings*, Larry Sanders, John Henson, Tobias Harris, Doron Lamb
Unprotected: Drew Gooden
Expansion Pick: For the Bucks, one assumption was made: that Monta Ellis would exercise his ETO and test the Free Agent Market. As such the Bucks were able to save Doron Lamb from protection, and leave Gooden unprotected. The Sonics will pass.

Indiana Pacers: Indy Cornrows
Protected: Roy Hibbert, Danny Granger, George Hill, Ian Mahinmi, Paul George, Miles Plumlee, Lance Stephenson, Orlando Johnson
Unprotected: Gerald Green, Tyler Hansbrough*, Ben Hansbrough*, Jeff Pendergraph*
Expansion Pick: Green had a good year that got him a contract and then saw his play fall off a cliff. Seattle will opt to snag Tyler Hansbrough's rights.

Detroit Pistons: Detroit Bad Boys
Protected: Rodney Stuckey, Jonas Jerebko, Greg Monroe, Brandon Knight, Andre Drummond, Kyle Singler, Kim English, Austin Daye*
Unprotected: Charlie Villanueva, Tayshaun Prince, Viacheslav Kravtsov, Khris Middleton
Expansion Pick: Kravtsov showed some promise in Europe as a defensive big man. He's worth a flier so Seattle picks him.

Chicago Bulls: Blog a Bull
Protected: Derrick Rose, Luol Deng, Kirk Hinrich, Taj Gibson, Jimmy Butler, Marquis Teague
Unprotected: Carlos Boozer, Rip Hamilton
Expansion Pick: Boozer would instantly be the best player on the team but is vastly overpaid and would really hit the team's salary cap in their first year. Hamilton has an unguaranteed contract that could be bought out for $1 million, but Seattle's not interested. They pass.

Southeast Division

Washington Wizards: Bullets Forever
Protected: Emeka Okafor, Nene, John Wall, Bradley Beal, Jan Vesely, Kevin Seraphin, Trevor Booker, Jordan Crawford
Unprotected: Chris Singleton, Trevor Ariza
Expansion Pick: I liked Chris Singleton's potential as a defender back in the 2011 draft. He hasn't had much success yet, but maybe a change of scenery will help. Seattle takes him.

Atlanta Hawks: Peachtree Hoops
Protected: Al Horford, Lou Williams, Jeff Teague*, John Jenkins, Ivan Johnson*, Mike Scott
Unprotected: DeShawn Stevenson
Expansion Pick: Seattle sees the only available Hawk is DeShawn Stevenson, immediately moves to next team on the list.

Orlando Magic: Orlando Pinstriped Post
Protected: Jameer Nelson, Arron Afflalo, Al Harrington, Glen Davis, Maurice Harkless, Nikola Vucevic, Andrew Nicholson, E'Twaun Moore
Unprotected: Hedo Turkoglu, Gustavo Ayon, Ishmael Smith, Kyle O'Quinn, DeQuan Jones
Expansion Pick: I like Gustavo Ayon. He's not spectacular but he's skilled and efficient. He reminds me of Jason Thompson. Seattle picks him.

Charlotte Bobcats: Rufus on Fire
Protected: Ramon Sessions, Michael Kidd-Gilchrist, Gerald Henderson, Bismack Biyombo, Kemba Walker, B.J. Mullens*, Cory Higgins, Jeffrey Taylor
Unprotected: Ben Gordon, Tyrus Thomas, Hakim Warrick, Brendan Haywood
Expansion Pick: The last expansion team in the NBA, Charlotte hopes to get rid of some of it's flotsam. They will not as Seattle passes on their bad contracts and Warrick.

Miami Heat: Hot Hot Hoops
Protected: LeBron James, Chris Bosh, Dwyane Wade, Udonis Haslem, Mario Chalmers, Norris Cole, Shane Battier, Ray Allen
Unprotected: Dexter Pittman, Rashard Lewis, Mike Miller, Joel Anthony, James Jones
Expansion Pick: Miami protected their core and two relatively young Point Guards. The only player that piques Seattle's interest a little bit is Pittman, but in the end they opt not to take him.

Southwest Division

Houston Rockets: The Dream Shake
Protected: Omer Asik, Jeremy Lin, James Harden, Patrick Patterson, Terrence Jones, Donatas Motiejunas, Chandler Parsons, Greg Smith
Unprotected: Marcus Morris, Carlos Delfino, Royce White, Toney Douglas*, Patrick Beverley, James Anderson
Expansion Pick: Marcus Morris had a better college career than his brother Markieff, but he hasn't had the same success in the NBA. Still, the Morris brother has good potential as a stretch 4, and doesn't offer the headache dealing with Royce White offers. Morris heads to Seattle.

Memphis Grizzlies: Straight Outta Vancouver
Protected: Zach Randolph, Rudy Gay, Marc Gasol, Darrell Arthur, Jerryd Bayless, Tony Wroten
Unprotected: Hamed Haddadi, Quincy Pondexter, Jon Leuer*
Expansion Pick: I seem to recall Jon Leuer having a decent stretch of games back with Milwaukee. Seattle opts to snag his rights.

Dallas Mavericks: Mavs Moneyball
Protected: Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion, O.J. Mayo, Vince Carter, Darren Collison*, Rodrigue Beaubois*, Jared Cunningham, Jae Crowder
Unprotected: Bernard James
Expansion Pick: The "Sarge" is the only player Dallas leaves unprotected. Seattle takes him, thinking he could be a fan favorite with his blue collar work ethic and style of play.

San Antonio Spurs: Pounding the Rock
Protected: Tony Parker, Tim Duncan, Boris Diaw, Tiago Splitter*, Danny Green, Nando De Colo, Gary Neal*, Kawhi Leonard
Unprotected: Patrick Mills, Cory Joseph, Matt Bonner
Expansion Pick: The Sonics need some more Point Guard depth, and Patty Mills or Cory Joseph will be able to provide that. Seattle chooses Patty Mills.

New Orleans Pelicans: At the Hive
Protected: Eric Gordon, Ryan Anderson, Anthony Davis, Robin Lopez, Jason Smith, Austin Rivers, Greivis Vasquez, Darius Miller
Unprotected: Brian Roberts, Lance Thomas
Expansion Pick: Seattle briefly considers Brian Roberts, but choose to pass.

Northwest Division

Portland Trailblazers: Blazer's Edge
Protected: LaMarcus Aldridge, Nicolas Batum, Wesley Matthews, Damian Lillard, Meyers Leonard, Victor Claver, Ronnie Price, Will Barton
Unprotected: Sasha Pavlovic, Jared Jeffries, Joel Freeland
Expansion Pick: Portland rekindles their Pacific Northwest rivalry with Seattle by absolutely sticking it to them with a very unappealing crop of players. Seattle passes.

Minnesota Timberwolves: Canis Hoopus
Protected: Kevin Love, Andrei Kirilenko, Derrick Williams, JJ Barea, Luke Ridnour, Ricky Rubio, Alexey Shved, Dante Cunningham
Unprotected: Brandon Roy, Nikola Pekovic*, Greg Stiemsma, Will Conroy*, Malcolm Lee
Expansion Pick: I was surprised when Stop-N-Pop left Pekovic unprotected, but he was adamant in his belief that he felt the Wolves would not pay out the big bucks for Pek in Free Agency. Pekovic is way too good to pass on, so the Sonics acquire the rights to him. This makes Pek an Unrestricted Free Agent, but Seattle has the Bird Rights meaning they can offer the most years and money. At the minimum they should be able to sign-and-trade him for other assets.

Denver Nuggets: Denver Stiffs
Protected: Andre Iguodala, JaVale McGee, Danilo Gallinari, Wilson Chandler, Timofey Mozgov*, Kosta Koufos, Ty Lawson, Evan Fournier
Unprotected: Andre Miller, Jordan Hamilton, Quincy Miller, Anthony Randolph, Julyan Stone*
Expansion Pick: This is probably the most appealing group of available players out there for the Sonics. For me it's between Jordan Hamilton and Quincy Miller. I like Miller's potential a lot but am unsure when he'll realize it. Hamilton can be a very good scorer given the opportunity, and he'll get it in Seattle.

Utah Jazz: SLC Dunk
Protected: Marvin Williams, Derrick Favors, Enes Kanter, Gordon Hayward, Alec Burks, Jeremy Evans
Unprotected: Kevin Murphy
Expansion Pick: Murphy is fully unguaranteed and was a good shooter in college. Because of the nature of his contract, Seattle takes him as essentially a no risk tryout.

Oklahoma City Thunder: Welcome to Loud City
Protected: Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook, Serge Ibaka, Thabo Sefolosha, Nick Collison, Jeremy Lamb, Perry Jones, Reggie Jackson
Unprotected: Kendrick Perkins, DeAndre Liggins, Hasheem Thabeet, Daniel Orton, Eric Maynor*
Expansion Pick: Here's where I was hoping to snag a really nice young piece like Jones or Jackson, but the Thunder wisely protected their core rotation and prime young assets. Still, that doesn't mean there's nothing left for Seattle to pick. I've liked Eric Maynor for a long time, so Seattle shall grab his rights.

Pacific Division

Sacramento Kings: Tom made the picks
Protected: Marcus Thornton, Tyreke Evans*, Jason Thompson, DeMarcus Cousins, Thomas Robinson, Jimmer Fredette, Tyler Honeycutt, Isaiah Thomas
Unprotected: Aaron Brooks, John Salmons, James Johnson*, Chuck Hayes, Travis Outlaw
Expansion Pick: This is some pretty slim pickings. But Seattle will opt to snag Aaron Brooks for a cheap Point Guard stopgap option. Brooks' 1 year contract also makes him a trade asset at the trade deadline for contenders.

Los Angeles Lakers: Silver Screen and Roll
Protected: Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash, Jordan Hill, Jodie Meeks
Unprotected: Metta World Peace, Steve Blake, Chris Duhon, Devin Ebanks*, Darius Morris*, Robert Sacre*
Expansion Pick: Seattle feels Devin Ebanks may have some potential, so takes on his rights.

Los Angeles Clippers: Clips Nation
Protected: DeAndre Jordan, Blake Griffin, Jamal Crawford, Grant Hill, Eric Bledsoe, Willie Green, Trey Thompkins
Unprotected: Caron Butler
Expansion Pick: Los Angeles protects their young guys and bets Seattle won't want Butler and his contract. They're right.

Golden State Warriors: Golden State of Mind
Protected: Andrew Bogut, David Lee, Brandon Rush, Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes, Klay Thompson, Festus Ezeli, Draymond Green
Unprotected: Andris Biedrins, Richard Jefferson, Charles Jenkins*, Kent Bazemore, Jeremy Tyler
Expansion Pick: These picks assumed Carl Landry opted out of his $4 million bargain deal to test FA market, which is likely. This allowed Golden State to protect Draymond Green. The new Sonics want nothing to do with Biedrins or Jefferson's contracts. Tyler has potential but I doubt he ever lives up to it. Seattle opts instead to take the right to Charles Jenkins.

Phoenix Suns: Bright Side Of The Sun
Protected: Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, Luis Scola, Markieff Morris, Kendall Marshall, P.J. Tucker
Unprotected: Michael Beasley, Luke Zeller, Diante Garret, Shannon Brown
Expansion Pick: There's absolutely no doubt that Michael Beasley is a talented player. But he's given each team he's been on fits with his immaturity and inefficiency. Seattle will pass, and instead take Shannon Brown for a scoring punch in the backcourt.


So after all the selections, the Supersonics chose 20 players, of which 7 are now Unrestricted Free Agents that Seattle holds the Bird Rights too (meaning they can offer more money and years).

The team depth chart, in no particular order, looks like this:

C: Nikola Pekovic* / Gustavo Ayon / Viacheslav Kravtsov / Spencer Hawes

PF: Bernard James / Jon Leuer* / Marcus Morris / Tyler Hansbrough*

SF: Jordan Hamilton / Devin Ebanks* / Chris Singleton / Tornike Shengelia

SG: Courtney Lee / Shannon Brown / Kevin Murphy / Wayne Ellington*

PG: Aaron Brooks / Eric Maynor* / Patty Mills / Charles Jenkins*

The Cap Sheet for the Guaranteed Contracts Looks like this (asterisks mark Qualifying Offers):






Gustavo Ayon





Aaron Brooks





Viacheslav Kravtsov





Spencer Hawes





Bernard James





Marcus Morris





Jordan Hamilton





Chris Singleton





Tornike Shengelia





Courtney Lee





Shannon Brown





Kevin Murphy





Patty Mills





2013 Draft 4th Pick





Salary Information from ShamSports

That's just a general idea of what the initial team would look like. The Free Agents may or may not sign with the team. The players with unguaranteed contracts might be waived. But it's a team with some talent, as well as great financial flexibility moving forward. The team would have the 4th and 35th pick in their first draft, and then be subject to the lottery rules for future drafts. They'll likely be in the lottery for at least the first few years, but with committed ownership and shrewd management, a team can grow quickly this way.

So come on NBA, give Seattle a team. But not ours. Give them an expansion team, one that they can cherish as their own with no feelings of guilt or remorse. And maybe one day, Seattle and Sacramento will have a rivalry on the court rather than off it.


If you haven't already please sign our petition to the NBA asking the NBA to allow Sacramento to match Seattle's offer and grant Seattle an expansion team.